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Fortuna virtutem superans.

Fortune triumphant over virtue

Emblema cxix.

Caesareo postqum superatus milite, vidit
Civili undantem sanguine Pharsaliam:
Iam iam stricturus moribunda in pectora ferrum,
Audaci hos Brutus protulit ore sonos:
Infelix virtus, & solis provida verbis,
Fortunam in rebus cur sequeris dominam?[1]

Brutus, defeated by the Caesarean troops, saw Pharsalia flowing with citizen blood. As he was about to plunge the sword into his dying heart, he spoke these words with undaunted voice: ‘Unhappy virtue, prudent only in word - why do you in reality submit to dominating fortune?’

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DIon refert, Bruto iam morti proximo recita-
tos versus hos ex nescio qua Tragoedia: O mise-
ra virtus! ergo nomen inane eras: ego ver te, ut
rem solidam exercui, quanvis interim fortunae ser-
vires. Significabat tunc quidem temporis plus mo-
menti & virium fuisse in fortuna, qum in virtute:
virosque bonos improborum machinis fractos &
extinctos. quod & hodie fieri videmus magno om-
nium luctu & consternatione.

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Fortune surmontant vertu.

BRutus voyant des siens la fortune faillie
Surmontez de Cesar es champs de Pharsalie,
Qui des bons citoyens regorgeoient tout de sang:
Soy proposant la mort, un poinctu glaive il prend,
Et dit ces mots icy, pleins de trop d’hardiesse:
Miserable vertu, tout’ pleine de promesse,
Et de langage vain, voicy l o j’en suis:
Car toy tout rebours la fortune tu suis.

DIon rapporte, que Brutus ja proche de
la mort recita ces vers prins de je ne
say quelle tragedie.

O miserable vertu,
Tant peu de pouvoir as tu,
N’estant que vent & fumee!
Mais moy je te cherissois
D’autant que je te pensois
Telle comme es renommee:
Las, pendant la mienne oppresse,
Fortune estoit ta maistresse.

Cela donne entendre que lors la fortune
estoit en plus de credit que la vertu: & que
les gens de bien se sentoient opprimez &
rompus par la malice des meschans. ce que
nous voyons aussi pour le jourd’huy, au
grand regret & estonnement de tous.

Notes:

1. After the assassination of Julius Caesar, Brutus and Cassius became the leaders of the Republican cause. The Caesarean troops, led by Mark Antony and Octavian, Caesar’s heir, defeated them in 42 BC in two battles at Philippi in Macedonia. (Pharsalus in Thessaly was the site of the battle in 48 BC in which Julius Caesar had defeated Pompey in a previous round of the Civil Wars. Pharsalia is here loosely used, as in the Roman poets, to refer to both sites of similar civil conflict.) For Brutus’ suicide after the defeat, see the end of Plutarch’s Life of Brutus.


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  • (story of) Marcus Junius Brutus death of person from classical history [98B(BRUTUS, M.J.)68] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • geographical names of countries, regions, mountains, rivers, etc. (names of cities and villages excepted) (with NAME) [61D(PHARSALIA)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Luck, Fortune, Lot; 'Fato', 'Fortuna', 'Fortuna aurea', 'Fortuna buona', 'Fortuna pacifica overo clemente', 'Sorte' (Ripa) (+ emblematical representation of concept) [54F12(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Virtuousness; 'Amor di Virt', 'Attione virtuosa', 'Guida sicura de' veri honori', 'Virt', 'Virt insuperabile' (Ripa) (+ emblematical representation of concept) [57A6(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass

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